An offiside rant or tirade is something you’d expect once in a while from someone known for being a shock jock. It goes with the territory. But what about when they take to Twitter and unleash a series of hateful rants that would offend even the most open-minded of us?
As Anthony Cumia found out last week, it can cost you your job.
Cumia, one half of the Opie and Anthony radio show duo, is no stranger to the experience of being reprimanded by his bosses. Over the years, Opie Hughes and Anthony Cumia have pulled stunts including urging their listeners to have sex in public places in New York City and calling out for Boston women to flash their breasts if they see a sticker advertising their radio show.
Those stunts – which represent only a small sampling of the hijinks they’ve pulled – have thrust Cumia into a steaming pot of hot water before, but the jocks have always escaped relatively unscathed. Not this time: Sirius XM didn’t waste any time in firing Cumia, and there doesn’t appear to be a chance of the satellite radio company changing its mind. Cumia’s salary is apparently $3 million per year.
How bad can his Twitter rant be, you ask? Well, on Tuesday night, Cumia was out walking the streets of NYC and was trying to take photos of the area when a woman was caught in the frame of his shots. Then shit got real. The woman, according to his Twitter feed, objected to being in the images and apparently punched him multiple times, calling him a “white motherfuckerer.” Cumia uploaded photos to his Twitter account to show that she was throwing punches at him, and in doing so labeled her a “c*** animal.”
His Twitter rant, which went on for several hours, can be seen here on Gawker (extremely offensive language warning!)/
Here are some of the (cleaned up) highlights:
- “Savage violent animal f***s prey on white people,’” he Tweets. “Easy targets. This C*** has no clue how lucky she was. She belted me 10 times. I had a gun.”
- “She’s lucky I was a white legal gun owner or she’d be dead. Then 5 blacks started giving me s***!”
- “I hope a home boy beats her to death. They aren’t people.”
Not good. Nor smart. Here’s a guy who is extremely intelligent (if you’ve heard the program you know the guy is no dummy – he could probably debate Einstein and win), yet not judicious enough to steer clear of social media when he had hateful things to say. Responding to his firing, Cumia took to Twitter yet again and said, “Sirius decided to cave and fire me. Welcome to bizarro world. Fired for s*** that wasn’t even on the air and wasn’t illegal. So, who’s next?”
As to his being fired via email, he added: “F*** Sirius.”
What Cumia – and other media personalities like him – don’t realize is that saying something on social media is actually worse than saying it on the air. Had he decided to sleep this incident off and wait until the next morning’s show to air out his grievances on air, he’d have been far more selective in the wording used to describe both the situation and the woman who punched him. The lure of Twitter’s instantaneous nature is irresistible, so why not get things off your chest right this second—why wait to unload when Twitter is only a thumb tap or keyboard click away?
I’d argue that Anthony Cumia could have come into work the next day, gone off on a similar hateful rant, and would probably still have his job. Maybe he’d be suspended or fined, but I don’t think the hammer would have come down with such force or speed. Sure it would have made headlines, and sure he’d still come across as a racist, but it probably wouldn’t have gone viral like this.
Things we post on social media become irrefutable and permanent evidence. Once we say it, we can’t take it back. Deleting it doesn’t work; there’s always someone who’s got a screenshot. Oh, and we always run the risk of having our missives taken out of context. Certainly that isn’t the case with Anthony Cumia, who is unlikely to convince anyone that his words were anything but hateful, racist, and bitter.
If you’re really angry – or in the case of another Anthony Weiner, really horny – Twitter is like that bad friend who will always convince you to surrender to the most base of desires. Like that friend, Twitter can be toxic in certain situations and should be avoided at all costs.